This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lecionary daily readngs along witb a headline from world news:
Van Gogh Sunset painting resurrected and identified
New English Translation (NET)
40 There were also women, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.
42 Now when evening had already come, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a highly regarded member of the council, who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised that he was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him if he had been dead for some time. 45 When Pilate was informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 After Joseph bought a linen cloth and took down the body, he wrapped it in the linen and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone across the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was placed.
Mark, writing 40 years or so after the crucifixion, offers some indication of the sources of his information about it. He names the two Maries and Salome, along with unnamed women as witnesses of the crucifixion, and Joseph of Arimathea as witness of his burial. It’s possible that these people were alive at the time of Mark’s writing, and/or known to the community of Christian churches.
The staggering thing is the absence of Jesus’ male disciples. Mark emphasises that women, not generally accpeted as legal witnesses, on the one hand, and a member of the hostile Sanhedrin on the other were those who showed faithfulness to Jesus. The ones whom Jesus had trained, the twelve who were symbols of the New People of God, were conspicuous by their absence. Courage and faith are displayed by unexpected and easily disregarded people; while those who from whom loyalty was expected, ran away. Mark wants his readers to see how great is the disciples’ need for the forgiveness that is promised them by the risen Jesus.
The passage confirms that Jesus was really killed under Roman Law, and buried. His male followers really deserted him. His whole ministry really ended in rejection, failure and death. This is a fact of history, not a myth. Mark still has the tricky task of explaining the existence of the Christian church forty years later. His way of doing so is one of the masterpieces of Christian theology, as tomorrow’s lectionary reading will show.